British design influencer and cottage queen Paula Sutton is releasing her debut book, Hill House Living, on October 19, about her life in Norfolk, her love for all things vintage, recipes, and quirky tips and tricks. ‘she found along the way. a beautifully organized life. Below is an excerpt from Hill House Living.
As interior design preferences grow, one would imagine that interiors, gardens, and the English and vintage lifestyle aren’t the most controversial or sweeping choices for a 51-year-old woman. . However, truth be told, this has recently received a lot of interest due to the fact that I am a black woman. As I mentioned before, my chosen aesthetic is not a trend or a fad for me, but a real way of life and one that comes very naturally to me. It’s a concentrate of style born from an authentic love for everything that is faded, mismatched, vintage and aged by time. In a world full of chaos, nothing speaks to me of comfort more than surrounding myself with interiors that evoke the relaxed and chintzy elegance of a bygone era. It certainly doesn’t strike me as something that excludes people of color, but the irony is, of course, that this style reflects a time when someone with my skin color probably wouldn’t have felt relaxed, comfortable, or welcome. .
Despite this, when I first ventured beyond the confines of my reassuring and calm life and started sharing images of my home and myself, joining an online community passionate about vintage who was equally drawn to that sense of nostalgia, the heritage brands and the country. alive as I was, it really didn’t occur to me that some might not think this was a natural habitat for me. My mother’s interest meant it was nothing out of the ordinary – she firmly believed that people should live their dreams and not be afraid of what other people think, so I did just that. (While my mom longed for the gracious English country house life and their inherited aesthetic, she put an end to my love of second-hand clothing, which she felt indicated a downgrade rather than a statement. For her, like many immigrant parents of the Windrush generation, the goal was to mark progress with new things, previously limited to pre-loved ones by default.)
However, with the mention of old-style country houses, one often thinks of a colonialist past and a history based on exploitation and suffering. While Hill House does not have a dark past related to slavery, it is understandable that these questions sometimes arise, especially when voiced across the Atlantic, where houses from certain periods architecture and location are undoubtedly linked to slavery and an era that does not reflect well on its predecessors. In these cases, no amount of architectural appreciation and positivity for the future should allow us to forget or conceal their truth and origins.
Another important point to reflect on and question is the idea that a certain ethnic group must be a monolith of tastes, styles and ideas. There is no such thing as a “black interior style”, but a glorious lineup of black interior enthusiasts, with a wide and varied range of tastes, influences and aesthetics. Among many more serious and necessary methods of survival, interpreting the style in an original and innovative way is what the Diaspora does best in each geographic location when they are outside of their ancestral homeland. Some may be directly influenced by their heritage, others perhaps more moderately, and others not at all. It’s all good and it’s just as much a healthy expression of “self” and individuality as the other. Self-expression in its most creative and comfortable form is a beautiful thing to see, and it is one of my greatest joys to meet a black digital designer who brought their own distinctive touch to what some would call it traditional style.
Some might celebrate their style, like mine, as “unconventional” for people of color, and especially for blacks. But what is the “unconventional” if simply a lack of visibility in a particular space? One of the beauties of social media is that people realize that certain genres of interior style and fashion are not the domain of any particular race, color, or ethnicity, but the domain of all who choose to speak with them – and thankfully many do. .
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